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US Election: Electing the "Lesser Evil" Obama or an Alternative to Big Business
In his contempt for people who think they have a right to state assistance, Romney shows himself to be a reactionary capitalist who slept through or represses a whole epoch of human development.
US ELECTION: ELECTING THE “LESSER EVIL” OBAMA – OR AN ALTERNATIVE TO THE PARTIES OF BIG BUSINESS
By Conrad Schuhler
[This article published September 27, 2012 is translated from the German on the Internet, http://www.isw-muenchen.de/download/us-wahlen-cs-20120927.pdf.]
It seems, the left journalist Tom Engelhardt writes, as though the republicans with Romney picked the only US citizen unable to defeat the economically wounded President Obama seriously vulnerable in every other regard (truth-out.org/opinion/item/11729). Romney goes to great pains to confirm this judgment. With his speech in Boca Raton before mammoth donors of the party – attendance at the dinner with Romney-talk cost $50,000, the organizer was a “buy-out”-manager like Mitt Romney himself in the past – he gave a Hail Mary-pass to Obama strategists. He seemed to confirm Bill Clinton’s rhetoric at the Democrats nomination convention that the presidential election will be a decision between two fundamental state philosophies, between conservatives who mistrust the state on principle and put their faith in the market and liberals who believe the state has to be a necessary counterweight to the economy.
To his friends from high finance, Romney showed George W. Bush was and is not the worst model of rightwing ideology in the rightwing camp of the US. What Romney said was “not elegantly formulated” but was not retracted. “47% of the people of the US will vote for the president whatever happens. These 47% are dependent on the state, believe they are victims, believe the state has a responsibility to care for them, believe they have a right to health care, food, housing and whatever… The state should give them that right. They will vote for this president whatever happens… These are people who pay no income tax. So our message of lower taxes doesn’t mean anything to them. My job isn’t to worry about these people. I will never convince them to take personal responsibility and look after their lives” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/09/17).
Romney’s assertions are not only helpful for Obama’s election campaign; they are absurd in a cynical way. Of the 47% who pay no federal income tax (the exact number is 46%), 61% are payers of payroll taxes. Their tax revenue is just as high as the revenue from income tax payers (a fifth of all tax revenue). 22% are pensioners, 17% are students, disabled and unemployed. They all do not pay any federal income tax because their incomes are so low. But their total taxes are still higher than the taxes of the 250-million man Romney who paid 14% tax on his income of $21 million in 2011 while the poorest fifth of US households had to pay 16% tax and the second poorest 21%. According to data of the government statistical office, half of the US population is poor or low-earning (Joshua Holland, http://www.alternet.org/print/election-2012/big-fat-lie-behind-romneys-absurd-47-argument).
In his contempt for people who think they have a right to state assistance, Romney shows himself to be a reactionary capitalist who slept through or represses a whole epoch of human development. In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations, the human right to food, health care, housing and social security was explicitly emphasized (Article 25 of the Declaration – http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml).
In its characterization of Obama as a political advocate of little people, the Romney defamation passes by reality. In 2008, Obama as a man of the left, of the people and of the movements against war and racism was the candidate of the Democratic Party and then actually elected president. He appeared and was elected as someone who challenged the party-establishment around the Clintons. He explicitly declared the problems of the country began under the Clinton presidency, not with the Bush administration. Similar to the British Labor Party under Blair or the German SPD under Schroeder, the Democratic Party prescribed a “third way” that was nothing other than the adoption of the neoliberal imperative: strengthening the economy, driving back the state, “deregulating” the economy and slandering “dependence” on social benefits. Above everything the state budget had to be balanced. The earlier concept that used the budget as a means of social and economic steering was abandoned. The Democratic Party developed into a pro-business party and followed the republicans the further they moved to the right.
Obama’s “change,” “hope” and “yes, we can” was directed against this business orientation of the party and had the support of voters and the base. He realized the third-best result that a democratic presidential candidate ever achieved. However after the election he followed Clinton’s model (and submitted to the pressure of the still dominant old school in the Democratic Party). Ralph Nader who ran three times as a presidential candidate for the Greens and said in 2008 people would be disappointed by Obama declared Obama doesn’t fight for what he believes. Obama has actually broken the majority of his promises. He didn’t raise the legal minimum wage of $7.25 (5.28 euro) although he wanted to do this up to 2010. He didn’t close Guantanamo, the concentration camp for alleged terrorists autonomous from all legal access. He accepted a version of health care that build the living daylights out. He uses drones against human targets that goes far beyond their deployment in the time of Bush. Why elect a war criminal, Ralph Nader asks, who wants to be an even greater war criminal? According to Nader, we are at a point where both candidates are so bad people can’t vote for them. He rejects the argument of “lesser evil.” Both candidates are similar in an unacceptable way. The democrats abandoned worker organizations and the poor; they are a hard party of big capital. He urges the election of Jill Stein, the candidate of the Greens or Rocky Anderson who challenges for the Justice Party (http://www.alternet.org/print/election-2012/what-ralph-nader-thinking-about-2012-election).
Not only Nader but many among the militant left are convinced the essential prerequisite for overcoming the current pseudo-alternative Democrats vs. Republicans is building an independent left voice both inside and outside the Democratic Party.
Is the alternative between Obama and Romney trifling? In fact Obama broke his promises to the base. He is a president of Wall Street. From 2002 to 2007 under President G.W. Bush, the top 1% pocketed two-thirds of growth in national income. In 2010 under President Obama, their share was 93% (Paul Street, http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/11734). Still the national and international consequences of a President Romney would undoubtedly be more fatal. Romney made his fortune of $250 million as head of an unscrupulous “grasshopper”-firm. He uninhibitedly exploits the advantages of tax havens. He is against any minimum wage, against unions, against health care, against every form of the welfare state and for aggressive war-mongering in the Middle East. He claims global warming is completely unproven and wants to raise all taxes except those on corporations. Romney is the warning signal of the still most powerful nation of the world.
Ralph Nader’s biography may provide important information. In 2000 Nader gained 97,000 votes as a presidential candidate in Florida. George W. Bush won that state with a lead of 543 votes over Al Gore. If Gore had won Florida, the US and the world would have been spared President George W. Bush. (That the Supreme Court confirmed Bush’s election victory in Florida against the blatant facts withy a 5:4 majority and that Al Gore resigned to this decision is another story.)
At the end of September, 5 weeks before the election, Obama has moved ahead in the voters’ favor. Bloomberg says Obama leads with 49 percent over Romney at 43 percent. The lead is tighter according to the Washington Post poll: Obama 49%, Romney 48%. However the Washington Post also reports Obama is 8 points ahead in the key state of Ohio. A republican has never become president without winning Ohio. According to the most current polls of the New York Times and CBS News, Obama has drawn ahead of his rivals in the “key swing states,” the large states whose alternating majorities decide the election outcome. In Ohio, Obama leads with 53% against 43%. In Florida with 53 against 44% and in Pennsylvania with 54 to 42% (http://www.cbsnews.com/83-26.9.2012). A candidate must gain at least 270 electors to become president. For the Washington Post, the following distribution is likely: Among “certain” votes, Obama has 196 and Romney 170. Among the “somewhat certain,” Obama has 59 and Romney 36. 77 votes are uncertain (http://www.washingtonpost.com, 9.26.2012).
The economic situation and perspective – growth is weak and unemployment remains high – and the appeal of Clinton and Obama may be the decisive factors for the majority decision of US voters. By November 6, the weights of the candidates could shift in the tangle of foreign policy problems. Islamic extremists and the threat to US diplomats and US agencies, disastrous developments in Afghanistan and Pakistan, an Israeli government that blasts a storm on Iran, militarily-intensified conflicts in Asia and Euro-politicians who could boot up their growth-inhibiting austerity policy – Obama has a long dangerous way ahead.
MoveOn.org, “A Simpsons’ animation works magic on Obama speech,” October 26, 2012
Scharenberg, Albert, “Obama vs. Romney,” October 2012
Wagner, Jurgen, “Champion of the Rich and Militarists,” October 2012